Hey DIY’ers! If you’ve never done a US tax return, and you are keen to try, here’s a list of the most common forms US citizens living abroad need to do their own returns, and a few important tips…
To get started, identify which forms you need from the list below. You can find fillable PDF forms, instructions and publications on the IRS website.
When you search for forms, you also typically see the corresponding instructions. Be sure to download and read these!
Remember, as you fill in the forms, to convert your amounts to US dollars!
Alright, drumroll… Here is the list of common forms:
|1040 (required)||Main tax return form
(Non-US persons, use 1040NR).
|Schedule A||Used to list medical and donation deductions. Only use if those deductions are greater than the "standard deduction" (For 2016, $6,300, or $12,600 if married filing jointly).|
|Schedule B||(Line 7 is REQUIRED of citizens living abroad)
List dividends and interest; on line 7, answer whether FBAR is required (see FBAR below).
On line 8, answer whether you have a TFSA, RDSP, RESP, or other trust (if you do, see our article on ***more specialized forms***!) (link: Post3b)
|Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (simplified version)||Self-employment reporting|
|Schedule D||(Use form 8949 to itemize) Capital gains/losses, capital gains distributions|
|Schedule E||Rents or royalties|
|2555 or 2555-EZ (simplified version)||Foreign Earned Income Exemption
The easiest way to be tax free when living outside the United States.
|1116||Foreign tax credit (use separate forms for passive and earned income)
Use if you have passive income, or earned income over the form 2555 exemption amount.
|FBAR||(REQUIRED by most US citizens abroad)*
Foreign Bank Account Report aka FinCEN Form 114
Report the values of assets and bank accounts outside United States.
*Do NOT file delinquent FBARs without finding out how to avoid the potentially huge penalties!
See our more complete article, covering more specialized tax reporting situations US citizens abroad can face.
- If you are DIY’er, save yourself a headache, and have someone look over your returns to find any glaring oversights. Let me do it at a fraction of the cost of an accountant!
- Do NOT file delinquent tax returns with the IRS until you learn how to avoid penalties!